Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What am I doing wrong?

Oh, I am frustrated. We were doing the evening showers and such when I glanced into my kids' playroom. Big mistake.

There are 2 Master Bedrooms in this house -- the original one, with a tiny bath, shower, etc. near the kids' bedrooms, and the fancy new MBD adition with the jacuzzi tub at the opposite end of the house. The kids have the original one for their playroom.

Several weeks ago I got so tired of their 500 million bazillion thingamabobs, whatsits, doodads and dinglehoppers that I cleaned the whole room, sorted all the tiny pieces (hello, LEGO, I hate you), and put all of the tiny stuff away in the closet. I kid you not, there is a "Mommy line" of masking tape across those closet doors and all children who enter are warned of the terrible fate that awaits he who has the audacity to open the forbidden doors.

Then I went into Garrett's room and found MORE. So I put it in a paper sack and set it in the playroom.

Tonight it was such a disaster I dumped the entire contents of the bag into the middle of the floor while Garrett was showering and began to sort it all out. LEGOS, K'Nex, Mighty Beanz, marbles, Magnetix, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Now, mind you, I have no inherent objections to ANY of the aforementioned toys. I DO have objections to the 3 tiny whirlwinds that churn them into a confetti-like MESS. It looked like Times Square the morning of January 1. NOT good.

Now, I don't think I am unreasonable in my expectations, for the most part. I don't think it ALWAYS has to be neat in there -- it IS a playroom, after all. But I have this apparently ridiculous expectation that LEGOS will stay with LEGOS, K'Nex with K'Nex, and so on. You can't use the parts with each other, so it makes sense to keep them separate, right? And really, what fun is it to try to build a project when you don't have all the pieces you need?

Of course I am tired and therefore more than slightly insane. (Hell, I am more than slightly insane on my best day. Remind me to tell you about the lovely family history I have that includes a legacy of depression, alcoholism, negativity and Alzheimer's. Great. So I can be unhappy and cranky my whole life and then forget about it and leave everyone else to deal with the ramifications of my evilness. Yeah, that has worked well in my family thus far. But I digress.)

So I lectured my kids -- to the tune of, "You know, I locked up all the toys in toy jail because you wouldn't pick them up or keep them in order. With your playroom looking like this, do you think I am going to be inclined to let you have the toys back anytime soon?"

--Yes, I use those big words with my kids. They are smarter than we give them credit for. Try it sometime -- perhaps we will up the IQ and vocabularies of the nation and the look at the future leaders of America won't be quite so depressing.

Anyway, once again I am the evil Mommy who throws toys in the trash. Okay, not so much toys, but about eleventy-seven little notebooks made by one Garrett that said, "My Book of Links." Okay, one book for internet links I get. Eleventy-seven? Not so much. And, of course, I had to editorialize: "Garrett, do you realize a TREE had to die for you to make all of these books?" --Yeah, great, Jennifer -- you live in California now. What the hell, pull out the environmental wacko hat and wear it for your kids. Take them to the redwoods so they can hug a tree, live in its branches, and name it "Butterfly" to save it from the evil corporate deforesters. That's nice. UGH.

So, gentle reader, what do I do now? Get rid of the toys because my kids have far, far too many? Develop a system to help them keep organized? They do NOT understand taking out one or two things and putting them back before taking out something else. We have tubs that are designed to help them keep things sorted. Unfortunately, they keep the things on the floot and the tubs in a stack so they can use it as a step-stool. Keep in mind they are all brilliant (of course), handsome (as you've no doubt thought to yourself as you looked at their photos here), and entirely above average (well, except Garrett. He's 8 and doesn't weigh 50 lbs. yet. So he's below average for weight, but otherwise, they are all exemplary. Really.)Should I lock them in their rooms for a week with no dessert? Make them donate their toys to needy children? Send them to Papa Dave's farm so they can pick rocks out of the fields? (Okay, that was too much for my urban readers, I am sure, but yes, every spring there are NEW rocks in farmers' fields -- even if the land has been farmed for 100 years. So every spring and summer, kids are hired (or forced) to pick rocks in fields so they don't damage farm machinery.)

As a parent, I want my kids to learn that they are responsible for picking up after themselves. One of my greatest fears is that they will someday have wives (or partners -- whatever) who complain that I, their loving mother, didn't require enough of them when they were at home. We are ALL responsible for keeping our home nice. Not perfect, not white-glove test clean, just liveable. Relatively neat. Clean as opposed to filthy. I do the laundry, cook most of the meals, clean the bathrooms, etc. I do not mind doing it most of the time. I like taking care of my family. It makes me feel needed. But I have no desire to feel indispensable.

How do I teach my kids responsibility? How do I make them understand this is a lesson we ALL have to learn? How do I let them know I love and support them, that I think they are the greatest treasures I could ever have hoped to have, but that they still have to clean their mother****ing rooms?



  1. I'm feeling your pain. Doing childcare has many of the same issues, especially the picking up of toys. I have the whole bin system, neatly pictured and labeled as to what goes where. Ask me if it helps? HELL NO!! I have to clean out the bins once a week. When we do clean up song, they try and throw toys in any bin that is closest forgetting labels and pictures. So, I've come to the conclusion that those damn labels are for my sanity and my insanity! I feel sane once I reorganize each week, but am insane when I see view masters in with rescue heroes, etc.. It is a vicious cycle, so I don't know what to tell you other than, if you figure it out let me in on the secret and vice versa.
    Now, be gentle on my nephews...I love them! heheee......

  2. I was laughing so hard when I read your post I had to take a drink and everyone around me wanted to know what I was laughing at.

    I only have one little angel to spread the crap out, so it isn't so bad, but I have been known to thrown toys away.

    Maybe have them clean out some of it so there isn't as much to keep up on and then threaten any of your families within an inch of their life for buying more?

    That part hasn't worked for me yet, but I am getting there.

  3. Good luck. Word to the wise...the kids won't learn to pick up after themselves until they are adults. That I have learned. Nice blog!

  4. Susan2:48 PM

    I meant to comment yesterday, but didn't get back to my computer (imagine that...).
    Anyway...I have this same trouble and it's why B's toys are currently cluttering up my basement which really didn't need MORE stuff in it. Perhaps our problem lies in our instinctive desire to organize. Let's face it...our boys are just miniature men. Men don't do tidy. They do attmepts at tidy (sometimes even pretty good attempts) but it's just generally not a man forte, neatness. SO...I propose (and I'll let you know if I get anywhere with it myself) we go for an attempt at weekly tidy with a concrete and absolute tidy once a month? So...pick a night that you're usually home consistently. That shall be "What Color is the Carpet in Here Again? Night" and at that time the carpet MUST be clean enough for vaccuming. (Lego can destroy a vac and they don't want to buy you a new one do they?) All toys must be in SOME container and put up on their shelves or in the closet or what have you. Then once a month, you get to go for the total org. Line up the proper containers, gather the toys in a pile and sort away. Perhaps in time there will be some more defined organizing during the weekly cleanings.

    Also again with the "mini-men" theory. They don't care about your standards of clean. But remember that ANY attempt at cleaning on their part is still cleaning. They will learn more about how to do it "right" if you give them the chance to do it wrong.'ll take that money and chew on it and get back to you to see if it's working at my house too...

    P.S. You're not doing anything wrong! I know, because they are not dead yet!